BBC iPlayer

Data, prioritisation and provocation

My main task in the iPlayer team was working with the product team to refine the discovery process and decide what to work on next


Case study - Skip intro

Making binge watching a breeze

My goal was to deliver a way for users’ watching iPlayer to skip over content that isn’t relevant.

To make the watching iPlayer content a more enjoyable experience

- Lead UX discovery and delivery
- Team leadership
- Champion accessibility

TV/web/native mobile feature

Feature usage and improved perception


The opportunity

BBC iPlayer wanted to improve it’s perceptions with its user base, especially under 35s. It was decided that releasing a feature that let the user skip the introductions to TV shows would help to achieve this goal. 

This was the most requested feature by users. It was also a feature that highly rated competitor products all had.

The big idea

The idea was simple - to replicate the functionality users knew well from other video platforms and make a feature that just works. I wanted the feature to be so unobtrusive that they didn’t even notice they used it, they just enjoyed watching content. 


I began the project by understanding how the feature worked on competitor projects and learning the design language of iPlayer.

User needs

I began by learning what users wanted in this space. I did this by reviewing previous research into the area and feature requests by users. 

I learned that there were two key scenarios where users wanted to skip the introduction:

- Binge watching
- Familiar content - e.g. soap operas

So I knew I had to optimise my solution to these scenarios.

I also learned that as well as the introduction, there were other parts of a programme that users wanted to skip. I used this to expand the scope of the project.


I knew that this feature already existed on several other competitor services.

I performed an audit of these services to understand if there was an industry standard pattern that users would be familiar with.

In my audit I focussed on: functionality, UI design and commonalities and differences between services.

I used these learnings in my solution design. 

iPlayer design language

I wanted to make sure that my solution fit into the existing iPlayer ecosystem. 

I discussed my project with other designers to get their input and feedback. 

By doing this I learned that there was an existing pattern - used in pre-roll trailers - that had a lot of similarities with my project.



When I learned as much I could about the problem and the product landscape, I moved into the development phase.

UI design

As the solution was clearly defined, the UI design was straightforward. I designed several variants of the UI and discussed the pros and cons with designers, the product team and stakeholders. 

The task was made more complicated by several factors that I needed to consider:

Cross platform - the solution had to work for TV, Web and Native mobile platforms.
Views - the solution had to work with different playback UI modes e.g. playback, control, compact & extended layout.
Coherency - the solution had to work within the context of a user journey i.e. what will the user see and do before and after this experience.


Design system

BBC iPlayer is a mature product and has a full design system. I needed to ensure that my solution was a consistent part of this system.

iPlayer was undergoing a rebrand at the time, so I needed to make sure I worked closely with the branding team to make sure my solution was appropriate.

I worked closely with a designer on the brand team and together we developed a new button component and motion design specification. 



Coordination was the major risk to this project. I addressed this by getting another designer to join my team and tasking them with creating an end-to-end service map of how ‘skip’ data should move through the BBC. 

We used this map to discuss risks and opportunities with the product team and stakeholders. 

This led us to get teams from across the BBC to work together and work on this project at the same time.


Data Model

I facilitated discussions between the business layer team and the three client platform teams to define a single data model that would fulfil user needs and was acceptable to all three clients.



As I planned from the outset, the solution we delivered is a simple feature that can be used effortlessly. 

Skip events

Based on the audit of the iPlayer content library and my research into user needs, we delivered a solution that allowed users to skip four different types of event:

- Introduction
- Recap of the last episode
- Coming up in this episode
- Coming up in the next episode


After sitting on the backburner for several years, after I joined the project we delivered it in a few months and managed to get the feature released on TV in time for Christmas. 

The initial usage data is encouraging. The Skip button is pressed around 1 in 4 times it is shown. I expect this to increase as long-time users become familiar with the feature. 


Next steps

The Skip feature is released on the TV platform, but is still in development on Web and Native mobile. 

I have begun discussions with the product and data teams around developing a second phase of the Skip feature. This would involve research into which direction has the most value.



On the surface this project seemed straightforward. I realised it had hidden depths both in terms of the solution required and the workflow needed to deliver the data.

I also realised that a project like this, that involves many different teams and disciplines, needs someone with commitment and drive to get things done.

Quick links:   Skip intro    Development process    Provocations

Refining the development process


My task was to work with the iPlayer senior leadership team to refine the iPlayer development process and apply it to the workstreams I was responsible for. 

The aim of the project was to:

- Make the process more efficient and effective
- Improving the discover process
- Effective prioritisation
- Ensuring a pipeline of discovery candidates

Quick links:   Skip intro    Development process    Provocations


During my time in iPlayer, I worked on the creation of 'provokotypes' designed to get the team thinking about future directions for the iPlayer product

How might we make it easier to find something to watch?
How might we make it effortless to find a new show to watch?
How might we reimagine the linear TV experience?
How might we make iPlayer feel more like watching TV and less like a using a website?

Assorted prototypes